Sunday, May 31, 2020

Official Paperworks When Giving Birth in Germany

The birth of a child is always a unique experience for parents. There is nothing else that anyone would like to do as to just pay attention and dedicate your time to your newborn child. Unfortunately, with the birth of a child comes the important paperworks and formalities that parents need to submit and fulfill. 

For this second pregnancy, it will be like doing things the first time since it is my first time giving birth here. In Germany, there are various things that need to be accomplished, not just for the formalities but also to be able to receive monetary support from the government. Here are important things that you need to take note of in order for everything to be in order and to do them properly.  I should prepare the paperworks before the baby comes out so that processing will be easier and faster.

I have come up with a list of the most important administrative formalities related to birth and have also noted the requirements, deadlines, costs if any and the responsible office.

1. Birth certificate (Geburtsurkunde): The birth certificate should be applied at the relevant civil registry office (Standesamt) within 7 days from the child's birth. This is oftentimes taken cared of by the hospital, since they are required to register newborns. The birth certificate costs €10 for the original and €5 for every certified copy. Documents needed are the parents' identification cards or passports for foreigners (Personalausweis), marriage certificate (Heiratsurkunde), birth confirmation from the hospital (Geburtsbescheinigung), and acknowledgement of paternity (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) for unmarried parents.

2. Paternal Acknowledgement (Vaterschaftsanerkennung): This is only applicable for parents who are unmarried. It should ideally be done before the child is born, so that the father's name could be directly entered into the birth certificate, but can also be done after birth. Otherwise, only the name of the mother will be noted. The father also does not necessarily have to be the biological father. There are no deadlines for the paternal acknowledgement. To apply for this, the following documents need to be presented at the civil registry office (Standesamt) or youth welfare office (Jugendamt): parents' identification cards or passports, birth certificate of the father, consent of the mother. The paternal acknowledgement is free of charge.

3. Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung): Because every person is required to have a health insurance coverage in Germany and so that the child is also insured for later check-ups, it is important to apply the newborn child for a health insurance. The child can be accommodated in the health insurance of the mother or the father by means of the birth certificate and/or paternal acknowledgement. For this purpose, an admission form can be requested by phone from the health insurance company. It is important to perform the official paperworks as soon as possible, so that the child can be insured as soon as possible, too! The costs of the insurance is dependent on the tarif. Documentary requirements include the birth certificate and admission form of the health insurance company, and paternal acknowledgement when necessary, and should be applied at your own health insurance provider.

Having a newborn child also mean that you need some financial support from the government because as an employee, you will have to stop working for a period of time to take care of your baby. In Germany, they provide child allowance until the age of 18, maternity allowance, and parental allowance for a maximum of 12 months should you decide to go on a parental leave.

4. Maternity Allowance (Mutterschaftsgeld): For employed women who are private or family-insured, the maternity allowance can be applied at the Federal Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt). The case is different for statutory insured women, as the maternity allowance will be paid by the insurance provider. The maternity protection allowance is given along with the employer's allowance for pregnant women who are on maternity leave. The maternal protection period for permanently employed pregnant women is from six weeks before to eights weeks after birth. To get this benefit, you should be insured with a statutory health insurance company as this is not paid under private health insurance. The amount of the allowance is maximum €13 per calendar day. You will need the following documents: employer certificate (Arbeitgeberbescheinugung), certificate of the presumed delivery date (Bescheinigung des mutmaßlichen Entbindungstermins), and filled-up application form for maternity allowance. The application should be submitted to the Federal Insurance Office for private or family-insured women or to the health insurance company for statutory insured women in good time before the begin of the maternity leave.

5. Parental Allowance (Elterngeld): The parental allowance serves to compensate for lost income. The administrative procedures after the birth can only be carried out at the offices designated by the state government, which are listed on the website of the Federal Ministry for Families (Bundesministerium für Familien). The amount of the reimbursement is based on the previous net income. An application should be made immediately after birth because the payment is only made retrospectively for a maximum of three months. To apply, you will need the birth certificate, parental allowance application form, and payslip from the last 12 months. The responsible office varies by federal state. You can find information on the parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) in your area from your city, district and municipal administration or from family advice centers. 

6. Child Allowance (Kindergeld): Child allowance or benefit is given to children until they reach 18 years. The application for child allowance (Kindergeldantrag) is processed by the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit), with processing times approximately between 1-1.5 months. It is possible to apply to the authorities for child benefit before the birth, but the application is only valid when the birth certificate is submitted. Payment is made from the month of birth and is paid retrospectively for a maximum of 3 months if the processing time is longer. The limitation period for the legal claim is four years. You will need to submit the birth certificate and the application form, which is available at the Agentur für Arbeit website.  

7. Income Tax Card (Lohnsteuerkarte): Have your income tax card changed. If you want to benefit from the child allowance, you must have your offspring noted on the income tax card. The income tax card can be applied for before birth, however the registration itself only takes place afterwards because the birth certificate is required for this. The change has to be accomplished as soon as you receive the birth certificate at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You will need to bring your income tax card, personal identification or passport, of course the birth certificate and paternal acknowledgment (for unmarried parents). 

8. Parental leave (Elternzeit): As a soon-to-be mother, you will of course want to spend time with your baby for as long as possible. That is why there is the parental leave. Generally, expectant mothers have a legal right to take parental leave until the child is three years old. This must of course be registered with the employer in writing at least seven weeks before the start of the parental leave. Not a classic administrative procedure after the birth, but nevertheless mandatory, the notification of the birth to the employer can be combined directly with the application for maternity protection and parental leave. Most mothers take 12 months of parental leave because during this time, they can also receive parental allowance. But if you financial capacity allows, you can take the maximum of three years. 

So there, hope this list will help other expectant moms like me living in Germany to prepare for the administrative procedures that go along with giving birth here. And I wish for a healthy and safe pregnancy.   

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